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Monday Morning Accounting News Brief: The Real Reason 150 Hours Exists; KPMG Pensioners Call Partners Immoral, Despicable | 1.22.24

Black and tan dog breed dachshund sleep in bed with sleeping mask and alarm clock.

Here we are again, Monday. Saw a few things floating around this weekend, perhaps we’ll get lucky and there’s lots more going on.

Let’s start with this lively discussion you may have missed on Twitter (do we really have to call it X?). I don’t know about you but I love when old-timers swing by to school us on how things used to be. I don’t mean that in the snarky “tell us again how you walked uphill both ways in the snow to the CPA exam testing gym” way. It started with a comment left on We Get to the Bottom of Why the 150 Hour Rule Doesn’t Require Specific Courses:

That tweet inspired this tweet…

…and people spent the rest of the weekend sharing horror stories about their Intermediate professors. Check the thread.

So I thought about writing this story up on Saturday but decided to be a lazy lump instead. I’ll get to it later. For now, Minneapolis Star Tribune has the scoop:

Meltdown of prominent CPA firm comes amid crisis for Minnesota charter schools

After Michael Pocrnich was accused of stealing more than $40,000 from one of his charter school clients in 2022, his accounting firm melted down, leaving dozens of Minnesota charter schools scrambling to find a new financial adviser.

The collapse of St. Paul-based Anton Group comes at a critical time for charter schools, which are contending with a shortage of firms capable of navigating their complex finances.

“We are hearing about a lot of situations where schools have lost their auditors and can’t find a new one,” said Joey Cienian, executive director of MN Association of Charter Schools, which represents the state’s 180 charter schools. “It has been a huge problem.”

But wait, it gets worse.

Legacy of Dr. Josie R. Johnson Montessori, a Minneapolis charter school that shut down last week amid financial trouble, lost its auditor last year and has yet to submit audits for 2022 or 2023 to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), according to the school’s authorizer, Osprey Wilds.

“They were misled by their financial services provider into believing their audit was underway,” said Erin Anderson, Osprey Wilds’ director of charter school authorizing.

Anderson declined to identify the firm, and the school’s leader did not return calls.

NAME AND SHAME, ERIN. We need the dirt.

Let’s wish a very happy 100th birthday to Plante Moran, they hit the century mark on Saturday.

Since its founding in 1924, the firm has grown from a sole accounting practitioner in a Detroit office to a billion-dollar audit, tax, consulting and wealth management firm with more than 3,800 professionals serving clients around the globe.

When asked the secret to the firm’s success, Managing Partner Jim Proppe can answer the question with one word: culture.

“Plante Moran’s unique culture is rooted in what Elorion Plante and Frank Moran called their ‘grand experiment,’” Proppe explained. “They envisioned an accounting firm where the best practitioners couldn’t wait to get in the door and clients were lining up to receive unsurpassed service. To achieve this, they built our firm on a solid foundation of principles and values like following the Golden Rule, doing the right thing for the right reasons and putting people and a long-term view before profits. A century later, our firm still operates under these same philosophies. It’s been the key to our success for 100 years, and I have no doubt it’s what will help us succeed for 100-plus more.”

Believe me when I say, we take every opportunity to poke holes in firms’ self-stroking press releases but in 15 years of doing this job, I’ll say with honesty we rarely if ever hear complaints coming out of Plante, their people do seem to enjoy working there. Most of them anyway.

Deloitte announced today has acquired substantially all of the assets of Giant Machines, a digital product company based in New York City.

The Giant??

Oh, never mind.

Since its founding in 2015, Giant Machines has specialized in many aspects of product design and development, including market and user research, product strategy, prototyping, engineering and design, and product management. The team has developed large-scale, custom solutions for Fortune 500 companies across a wide array of industries, including climate tech, health care, public utilities and more. Giant Machines is also focused on shaping the future of engineering talent through inclusive and custom learning experiences — which will become part of Deloitte’s existing, award-winning training programs.

And a bit further north, the national Canadian mail service is hooking up with Deloitte Canada:

The postal service announced last week that it has entered into an agreement to transition Innovapost – its IT shared-service provider – to Deloitte Canada, a leader in IT operations and solutions that is known for addressing complex business challenges with world-class capabilities, insights, and service.

With e-commerce set to double in Canada over the next decade, powerful IT is essential for the retail economy and for Canada Post. The changes announced will help Canada Post better deliver the digitally enabled products and services Canadians need, while ensuring the postal service continues to be a vital economic link for the entire country.

“Today is the start of an exciting journey to transform Canada Post’s information technology model so that we can better meet the demands of our customers, particularly in the competitive parcel market,” says Doug Ettinger, President and CEO of Canada Post. “This change not only enhances our strategic focus, it also ensures we have the world-class expertise in place to deliver results for Canadians.”

Former KPMG UK staff with pensions called current partners “despicable” and “immoral” for not giving them an inflation-related bump to said pensions in many, many years.

Partners of KPMG UK have been accused of despicable behaviour for freezing the pensions of their former colleagues, in some cases for as long as 15 years, while voting themselves pay packets averaging £757,000 last year.

Some past employees of the accounting and consulting firm say they have not had an inflation-linked rise in their pensions since 2008, leaving them with pensions 37 per cent lower in real terms.

Kay Breach, 76, a retired administrator from Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, who worked for Peat Marwick Mitchell, KPMG’s predecessor firm, for 27 years, said she had not received a penny extra in her pre-1997 pension since 2010.

“For a partnership as big as KPMG, this is quite despicable, considering the remuneration partners each receive. How the partners expect me to live on the same amount that I received in 2010 is beyond me,and quite frankly immoral.”

Another retired KPMG long-server, who asked not to be named, said: “A big chunk of my income has been frozen since 2008. But I am luckier than some of my former colleagues who were in more junior roles. A lot of people are feeling this really badly. The partners should think about them. They are feeling pretty aggrieved.”

Supposedly the pension fund has a surplus of £2.5 million ($3.2 million USD) and assets of £676 million ($860 million USD).

Ellen Labita, partner and professional practice leader for Baker Tilly’s not-for profit and healthcare practices, has been appointed to the FASB Not-for-Profit Advisory Committee for a four-year term that began January 1.

Comprising 15 to 20 members, the Not-for-Profit Advisory Committee serves as a vital resource, offering insights and guidance on the not-for-profit sector to the FASB. In her role, Labita will contribute valuable feedback on financial reporting issues and potential sector improvements.

“I am honored to join the Not-for-Profit Advisory Committee,” Labita said. “I am eager to collaborate with my fellow committee members to contribute financial reporting insights to inform the FASB’s agenda.”

A Financial Times opinion piece suggests business “is starting to think more about ROI than DEI,” referring directly to PwC’s decision to pull back on its DEI efforts of the past few years (we wrote about that here: PwC Is Dropping Diversity Targets After the Supreme Court Affirmative Action Decision)

Several days ago, over the Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend in the US, the big four accounting firm PwC announced that it would be dropping some of its diversity targets in the US. Race-based criteria would no longer be used for awarding scholarships or places on an internship programme.

Let’s be clear: nobody doubts the fundamental benefits of a diverse workforce. There’s a large body of long-term research showing that when it’s higher, particularly in executive teams, companies are more profitable. That’s a no brainer. If your staff reflects an increasingly diverse customer and supplier base, your organisation will do better in the marketplace. The problem is that in recent years, DEI has often become too politicised and performative, particularly in America.

Ugh, politics.

This article on funding your retirement with side hustles might be relevant to you considering how little some of you are paid.

KPMG Chairman and CEO Paul Knopp talked to a woman cosplaying the 90s one-hit wonder group 4 Non Blondes about generative AI job disruptions.

“I think in the long term, there will be job disruption, no doubt about it, KPMG CEO Paul Knopp told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo, Tuesday, from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“Seventy-six percent of millennials and Gen Z said their jobs are already significantly impacted by generative AI, and there has not been significant job loss to date,” he continued. “So what I think that means is that we are putting it into the mainstream now, and the workforce is still very flexible today.”

OK, I’m done. Have a good one, all! Comments are off on the Monday news brief by default but you are welcome to submit a letter to the editor if you have something to say about these or any other stories on the site. Holla if you need me.